What’s Hot and What’s Not in Kitchen Design

The latest trends in kitchen decor include reclaimed wood, mixed materials, glass surfaces and hydraulic lifts.

Reuse, Recycle, Reclaim

Trend: Reclaimed wood

The Upside: Kitchen cabinets made from reclaimed wood or with reclaimed-wood surfaces provide a sense of “history” and complement black metal hardware, said Jacob Kindler, owner of Urban Homes in New York City. “In 2000, dark veneer was trendy. A few years ago, it was all gray. It’s now all reclaimed wood,” Mr. Kindler said. Pictured: a showroom kitchen with reclaimed-wood bottom cabinets and lacquer wall cabinets.

The Downside: Along with a high price—“it’s one of the most expensive, just before stone doors,” said Mr. Kindler—this kind of wood requires cleaning with specialized cleansers.

Cutting Edge

Trend: Glass and ceramic surfaces

The Upside: Tom Wilkinson, owner and president of Arete European Kitchens in Austin, Texas, says new technology is making glass countertops and cabinet fronts not only possible, but functional and comparable in price to marble and high-gloss lacquer. The glass is back-painted and matte, and thus could be mistaken for another material, but when sunlight hits, it offers the distinctive glow of glass, Mr. Wilkinson said. Pictured: A showroom kitchen with matte-glass countertops, backsplash and cabinet fronts. Also popular now are giant slabs of matte, textured ceramic—think one big tile.


The Downside: Thus far, ceramic slabs come in a limited array of colors—about two dozen to date, Mr. Wilkinson said. Glass countertops aren’t as durable as stone, “but as long as you’re not cutting on it, you’re not going to scratch it,” he added.


Ups and Downs

Trend: Hydraulic lifts

The Upside: Hydraulic-lift technology costs about a quarter of what it did 10 years ago, according to Ken Burghardt, co-owner of kitchen-design firm Domicile in San Francisco. Most in demand: a drawer for a standing mixer, food processor and blender, all plugged in, that rises out of the countertop and sinks back down when the appliances aren’t needed. Also popular: televisions that slide down from behind wall cabinets. The lifts can be controlled by iPhone. Pictured: a recently completed Silicon Valley kitchen with a fully stocked bar that rises out of the counter.

The Downside: Distracted home chefs or curious toddlers could get their hands caught in a descending hydraulic lift. Mr. Burghardt said his countertop sections pop off as a safety precaution, but this isn’t standard across the industry.


Mixed Media

Trend: Mix-and-match materials

The Upside: Steven Cooper, designer and owner of Cooper Pacific Kitchens in Los Angeles, looks for interesting ways to mix materials. Recently for clients, he has built countertops of natural quartzite and “live-edge” wood—where the edge isn’t sanded down. In his showroom (pictured) is a kitchen with quartzite, wenge wood and stainless-steel countertops.

The Downside: Using the wrong materials in the wrong workspace can backfire. “A zinc countertop isn’t going to wear as well in a high-use zone,” said Mr. Cooper.